The Western Mail,
Cardiff. Precise date
uncertain, though probably around
about 14 February 1934.
Horse and Hounds
The Hounds of Glamorgan
Huntsman and Philosopher
By GARETH JONES
are the best critics of the huntsman,” said Frank Grant philosophically, as we
stood in the kennels and looked at that magnificent sight, a pack of keen,
healthy hounds. “If you make a
fool of them a time or two they won’t have it again. They know whom they can rely on.”
that is so, the hounds of the Glamorgan Hunt must live in a work of security
almost unheard of in our troubled days, and must have few qualms about that one
problem which pervades their life-the fox’s scent.
and Student, Wrangler and Wizard, Wendy and Watchman must look up to their
huntsman with the awe and confidence in which a young Nazi Storm Trooper holds
are right to rely on Frank Grant. This
broad-shouldered, sturdy-faced man has for a quarter of a century been the dread
of Vale of Glamorgan foxes. No
wonder, for Frank Grant’s life has been one of hunting. Born at Ledbury Kennels, where his father was huntsman, he came to
Glamorgan in 1909, after having been the bane of foxes in North Warwickshire, in
Sir Watkin Wynn’s country, in North Hereford, Waddon Chase, West Norfolk, and
in Radnor and West Hereford. Today
he says: “Since I’ve been here I’ve had two of the best masters one could
ever wish to work for.
R. H. Williams, of Bonvilston, and Col. Homfray, of Penllyn Castle.” There is hunting in his blood, descending from generation to generation,
and now being carried on to his son. Herbert John Grant, who is a brilliant
stable jockey with Mr. Harry Peacock at Middleham, and who as a fearless boy
rider won whips and prizes galore.
you want mere than family tradition to be a good huntsman. “Did you have to go through a hard school?”
I asked Frank Grant. Not
half,” he replied, nodding his head as he recalled his severe training. “It’s a hard school all right.
when you’ve gone through it and worked all hours at all jobs, and had rigid
discipline, everything comes natural.”
more important than training are courage and health. For the 25 years since he has been with the Glamorgan Hunt Frank Grant
has not had a day off with illness. “Of
course, I’ve been laid on one side with accidents,” he says. “Have you had any bad accidents ? “
I asked. What a reply I got! No, no, he’s had nothing serious at all; nothing worth worrying about,
just minor hurts. But when you
press him for a real answer he will admit that he has had his ribs broken three
times, his teeth knocked out, his nose broken, his right knee put out, and many
hard clouts on the head
THE DAILY ROUND
day is a full one. At six
o’clock, when most poor ordinary mortals are still lying asleep, he is up and
seeing that the kennels are washed. The
hounds are then walked out, and they greet the sharp morning air with canine
excitement. At eight the huntsman,
tingling with health and his face red with the cuts of the wind, sits to his
breakfast, and kindly Mrs. Grant ministers to his needs. At about nine o’clock he goes to feed the dogs.
When the dogs have been fed they are walked out again and the kennels are
washed. The meat is put on to boil
in a gigantic cauldron for the next day and on every other day the oatmeal
pudding is cooked
the afternoon the hounds are taken for a walk again and the kennel washed; and
poor feeders are given bit of food, whiles the others have to b satisfied with
one meal a day.
THAT IS NOT ALL
these tasks there is much else for Frank Grant to do. That brilliant red coat which you see hanging in the kitchen has to be
valeted, and those fine black hunting boots which glitter on the mantelpiece
have to be cleaned an polished. And
perhaps there is a letter to be sent to the pride of the family, the 2l-year old
Herbert, who is looking forward to hunting with his father in the New Year and
wants to know all about the meets.
there is a meet the day is more adventurous. Mrs. Grant little knows when her husband may come back.
That day on his return, his face often scratched and his red coat often
plastered with mud, he takes out a black covered book and, like a boy doing
homework, writes an account of the hunt.
was your most famous hunt?’ I asked.
huntsman looked up his black book.
TWO GREAT RUNS
was on February 11, 1913,” he replied. “We
met at Llantrithyd, drew Coed Arthur blank, found in Coed Colin and ran by Coed
Hills and lost him; we drew Beaupré, Crable, Castlewood blank, found in
Pinklands, and lost him at Bwlchrach.
the afternoon we found in Park Wood, Penllyn, ran by Pinklands over Llanblethian
road, into Llandough Bottoms; up by St, Mary’s Church, Llandough, through
Beaupré, and across to Coed Francis and through Coed Arthur over to Llanfeithin
and down to Grendon Big Wood; we went in at the Garnllwyd end and up to the
Whitton end, when we ran him to ground in a drain. I only had to help the hounds once during the whole hunt.”
great hunt,” continued Frank Grant, “was also in 1913-on Friday, November
22. We met at Waycock Bridge, found
in David’s Cover, ran by North Cliff and across to Duffryn through the
Ashball Spinney and Little Blackwood, through Betty Lucas Wood and Grendon, down
over Caemains, and then to Llantrithyd ruins. The fox crossed the Cardiff road to the Walks, and we killed by
Llanquiran Farm at Aburthin. We did
this hunt in one hour twenty minutes.”
most remarkable occurrence in Frank Grant’s life must be unique in the annals
of hunting. Let him describe it:
the hounds were hunting a fox across Ewenny Old Park through the bracken, which
was all beaten down, a fresh fox jumped in among them as they were running and
went along with them for about 300 or 400 yards. They were so determined on the scent that they did not see the fox with
them. When the hounds turned to the
right over the railway line the fox dashed off to the left and not a hound went
with him. It sounds unbelievable,
but Tom Codsbrook will bear me out.”
when this was told it was time to leave Frank, for the hounds were waiting for